Sightings Archives: October 2015

MARINElife blog: DFDS: ‘Dunkerque Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 10 October 2015

Posted 15 October 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Outbound - sea state 4-3 with ENE winds, hazy. Return - Sea state 3-4 winds ENE to NE hazy.

Summary of Sightings
Common Gull  Larus canus 3
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Gannet  Morus bassanus 45
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 10
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 2
Guillemot  Uria aalge 8
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 3
Little Gull  Hydrocoloeus minutus 7
Razorbill Alca torda 33
Red-throated Loon  Gavia stellata 1
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Auk sp. 1
Larus sp. 4
Tern sp. 1
Gull sp. 4

Terrestrial birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2

Once on board the Dunkerque Seaways, I proceeded to the information desk and was taken to the bridge to prepare for the survey. I was able to have a meal before departing, joined by a member of staff, Santa Tehere, with whom I reminisced about travelling across the Bay of Biscay.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 04b
Gannet (Carol Farmer-Wright)

The ship left port and, once outside the breakwater, I began my survey. Sightings were slow, mainly of Gannet, with occasional views of Kittiwake, Great Skua, Great Black-backed Gull, Guillemot and a solitary Red-throated Diver.  Nearing Dunkirk, small groups of Razorbill were seen flying low above the water. A flurry of activity involving feeding Little Gull, Guillemot and Gannet occurred just before the ship entered the Dunkirk breakwater and the outward section of the survey ended.

Whilst berthed at Dunkirk, I took the opportunity to watch the birds flying by the canal that leads to further berths closer to the town. There were many Starling and small birds numbered in their hundreds feeding in the scrubland that, sadly, had to be excluded from the survey. Also excluded were the Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull that crowded around the ship as we reversed out of the berth to opportunistically feed in the currents generated by the ships thrusters and propellers.

Passing the breakwater I began the return section of the survey.  Again, sightings were sparse with the majority of birds being sighted in the first twenty minutes. A small feeding group of Gannet and gulls were seen, the latter quite difficult to identify as many were in silhouette. Occasional sightings of Gannet and Great Black-backed Gull were recorded before the Dover outer breakwater brought my survey to an end.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 04
Great Black-backed Gull (Peter Howlett)

My thanks go to Master Maciej Szymanski, the bridge officers and crew of the Dunkerque Seaways for making my survey so enjoyable.

Carol Farmer-Wright , Research Surveyor for MARINElife